USA forces reportedly killed more than 100 Russian mercenaries inside Syria
18:56, Feb 14, 2018
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Four Russian nationals, and perhaps dozens more, were killed in fighting between pro-government forces in eastern Syria and members of the USA -led coalition fighting the Islamic State militant group, according to Russian and Syrian officials.
It could be the most lethal clash between the U.S. and Russian citizens since the cold war has ended if the estimates of Russian casualties are confirmed.
The drone incident follows an unconfirmed Bloomberg report that u.s. forces killed more than 200 Russian mercenaries in an attack on a US-held military base and refinery in Syria last week.
The Kremlin has sidestepped questions about the episode, even as it faces rare criticism at home over its failure to acknowledge the deaths of Russians in Syria. The Other Russia group said Ananyev was killed in battles near the Syrian town Khasham, where the USA coalition carried out its strikes.
"It continued to move, so we... executed self-defense rules of engagement to protect ourselves".
The Russian Defense Ministry, which supports Syrian President Bashar Assad in the ongoing civil war, said none of its servicemen had been involved in the clash and that only 25 pro-government Syrian insurgents were wounded. Since previous year, Russian Federation and Syria have trumpeted their success in regaining control of about 55 percent of Syrian territory. And US and Russian military officials maintain daily contact to avoid battlefield mishaps.
The reports attribute the alleged casualties to a recent U.S. airstrike and put the figures between 100 and over 600. "We have no data about other Russians that may stay in Syria, I recommend addressing the defence department", Peskov told reporters.
But the Kremlin along with Russian President Vladimir Putin refuse to admit anything about the deaths.
Most of Syria is held by forces loyal to its president, Bashar al-Assad.
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"I can't give you anything on that, we have not received that word at Central Command or the Pentagon", he said.
Ionov said he was speaking out because he wanted any Russians who were killed to be officially recognized for their sacrifice.
Russian Federation officially withdrew regular forces from Syria in December after two years of fighting in support of President Bashar al-Assad, but hundreds of private military contractors and mercenaries remained.
The men were working for a private Russian company called Wagner, which has sent hundreds of private contractors to Syria to help both the Russian military and pro-regime forces, according to people who knew them.
Military.com says the drone attack was carried out in "self-defense" after forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad fired at USA advisers and allied Syrian fighters.
Several Russians died in Deir Ezzor that day, according to groups representing them.
Without mentioning the incident directly, Russia's foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov, warned on Tuesday that "Americans have taken risky unilateral steps" in Syria in siding with SDF forces, who control an extensive region in northern Syria.
"Those steps look increasingly as part of efforts to create a quasi-state on a large part of Syrian territory - from the eastern bank of the Euphrates River all the way to the border with Iraq", he said.
Fox News' Lucas Tomlinson first reported the news of the tank's destruction and said that it had fired on USA special operations troops in the same location as an attack last week, wherein 500 pro-regime forces fired on a United States and SDF headquarters.
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